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   SOCIAL PHENOMENA

 by Teng Wang

What is Society?

Before discussing social phenomena, we should perhaps ask the very first question of what society is. In other words, what the definition for society is. According to Dictionary of Modern Chinese as compiled by the Dictionary Editorial Board of the Linguistic Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, “society” means: (1) a collection formed by a definite economic foundation and superstructure that can also be termed social formation. Human society has five basic formations, namely, primitive communist society, slavery society, feudal society, capitalist society and communist society. (2) Society in general terms means a group of people gathering together due to similar materialistic conditions. American biologist Edward O. Wilson defines “society” as “a group of individuals belonging to the same species and organized in a co-operative manner. ”* I think Wilson’s definition is the better one. 

Why Society Exists? 

The second question we should then ask is why some animals live together whereas some animals live alone. In other words, why some animals are social when others are solitary. In fact, many large carnivorous animals, such as tiger, leopard and bear (which is omnivorous) live alone. There are two basic conditions for animals to survive: there is enough food and they are not to be eaten by other animals. For larger animals, their body sizes lead to two inevitable consequences: they require more food, and they face less natural enemies. So, the primary problem for larger animals would be to find enough food. If these animals live together in a group, the problem of insufficient food would be exasperated. As for those smaller animals such as ants, wolves, monkeys and human beings that have to face many natural enemies need to get together, depend on and protect one another from their enemies.

The Goal of Human Existence 

The third question we have to ask, then, is what constitutes the goal of human existence. I believe that human society is like a race. People are born athletes participating in a race, not physical but intellectual. Human life is just like a marathon race. Physical marathon race has a finishing line whereas intellectual marathon race will never end. Instead, human life has a direction or goal, and the goal is called “control...”. In this world, anything other than human is a thing (including animals). The ultimate desire for human is to exercise the greatest possible control over the other human and things around him. Control on human is “power”, and control on things is “wealth”. Power is measured by positions and ranks whereas wealth is measured by money terms. With the control on human comes indirectly some control on things, such as politicians using their power to gain materialistic benefits. Likewise, with the control over things comes indirectly some control over human, such as rich people hiring other people to work for and serve them. Politicians also have direct control over things, such as government-owned enterprises and assets. Nevertheless, this kind of control is not absolute and politicians cannot blatantly take the things under control as their own assets. On the contrary, the assets of a capitalist are entirely privately owned and the capitalist has absolute control over them. The study of how people control one another in order to gain indirect control over things is called politics. The study of how people make use of the control over things to indirectly control other people is called economics. American psychologist Abraham Maslow says that there are seven levels of human need, namely, (1) food, water, (2) safety, (3) belongingness, love, (4) esteem, (5) curiosity, (6) beauty, symmetry, and (7) self-actualization. Only after man’s lower level of needs have been satisfied, will he recognize the need at the next higher level. Maslow believes that the highest desire of man is to “self-actualize”. In my opinion, though, the meaning of self-actualization is not clear enough. Instead, I believe that  the ultimate goal for human existence is to control everything that exists, meaning the entire universe. Things will become “beautiful” after they are controlled. For example, people think that today’s life is more beautiful than yesterday’s because they have greater control over life today than they had yesterday. Otherwise, they would not say so. Curiosity is only a means to achieve the end, that is, control. One has to understand a thing before controlling it. Only when the structure of atom is understood can atomic power be controlled. As a result of the natural course of evolution, human beings have only two eyes and ten fingers. By the same token, the human desire to control and be curious is the result of evolution that has been going on for millions of years. Those ape-men that lacked the desire to know and control had died out long time ago. The so-called esteem in real terms is the desire to do well in everything and outperform others. People compete and compare with one another to see who can control more. This is the primary motivation force behind human social development. Social animals are “social” and live together because they are linked by a common force. The force that links the Earth and the Moon is called gravity, and the force that links social animals together is belongingness and love, an inherited instinct of social animals. Adults do not have to teach kids to make friends with other kids because it is in their instinct. Without friends, people will feel lonely. Among social animals, there is mutual attraction (belongingness and love) as well as repelling force (hatred) in competition for control. In other words, people co-operate and compete with one another. Co-operation increases the chance of survival for people as a group while competition and selfishness increase the chance of survival for individuals. Both forces are necessary and are results of the natural course of evolution over the years. Sometimes, though, competition can also increase the chance of survival for a group. A typical example would be two male deer competing for a herd of female deer. In the end, only the stronger male deer has the chance of mating therefore their offspring will have a better chance of survival.

In common words, the goal of human existence is to scramble for power and wealth.  Human society is just a stage for race, or competition. To the losers, competition is very cruel. Competition causes a lot of stress, so not everyone likes competition. If you give up, others, including your parents, will look down on you, and tell you that you are useless. Therefore, every one of us born in this society is forced to take part in the competition. Why is human society a stage for competition? Because human beings have needs. The first need is oxygen, and then the needs for food, water, clothes, housing and transportation are followed. All these things are not free, have limited supply, except oxygen. Nobody can survive without food, water, clothes and house, so, people feel unsafe, and then they desire for all these. This desire is limitless. Even if someone has gathered enough wealth for the rest of his life, he still wants to collect more for his children, even his grandchildren. The result of limited resources plus limitless desires is competition.

There are people in this world, such as monks and missionaries, who may not appear greedy and lack the desire to control other people or things. It is only because these people believe in an afterlife. They sacrifice the present life for the sake of the future life in heaven. What is heaven? In my view, it is the place with indefinite control. Therefore, these people still want control in the end. They want to control their life to come because they believe in it. People that have more control over other people are called politicians. People that have more control over things are called capitalists and people that have more control over knowledge are called scientists. All these people are the forerunners at the intellectual marathon race. 

A Metaphor

I would like to discuss a metaphor before explaining social phenomena further. If I were an automobile designer and had to design an automobile, I would put forward my goal and requirements at the outset. Firstly, the automobile has to be a secured vehicle with brakes that work well, wheels (if any) that will not fall apart and a body that is compact and durable. Secondly, the manufacturing cost has to be low. Thirdly, the car will need to have towering engine power and high speed. Fourthly, it incurs low operating and maintenance costs, saves fuel (not necessarily gas), and will not easily break down. Fifthly, the vehicle is convenient to use. The reading meter and switches are at appropriate positions and easily been seen. It should have wide field of view, and be spacious and easy for people to go in and out. The temperature has to be adjustable, it should have high fidelity stereo and communications systems. The car also has to be quiet and with little vibration. Sixthly, its appearance and color will prove to be satisfactory to the customers. In short, the second, third and fourth requirements can be combined into one. In other words, to combine horsepower with speed, then divide them by manufacturing and operating cost and come up with the efficiency of the automobile. Simply speaking, the car will have to be safe, efficient, comfortable and good-looking. Of course, these requirements contradict one another. Cars with low manufacturing cost will never be very comfortable, and cars that are handy to use will not be cheap. Cars will have to be big and heavy in order to be safe because large cars with greater inertia will  suffer less damage in collision. However, manufacturing and operating costs will consequently be increased in this way. If I were to design an automobile for rich people or high-ranking government officials, I could well ignore the cost factor and stress instead the importance of safety, comfort and convenience. Nevertheless, if I were to design for the common folks, I have to pay much attention to the cost factor while also take the other factors into consideration. When designing for the military, safety would be of greater importance. Automobile equipped with armor becomes armored vehicles and tanks. These vehicles use much gas, the costs will be high, and they are with comparatively little efficiency. What about designing for those that cannot even afford to buy  a car? Then one has to try to minimize the cost to make it a motorbike, which certainly lacks safety. Accordingly, no car can be perfect and by the same token, no plane, ship, house or bridge can be perfect. Nor are there any perfect desk, chair, television,  radio ... You get the picture. 

The Goal (or The Purpose) of Human Society 

Now that if I were to design a human society, what requirements would I have for the society? The first is security: personal security, property security and job security. The second requirement will be efficiency. Efficiency is defined as the average value that every individual creates in a given period of time. What we say in general terms “per capita income” actually means efficiency. The third factor would then be equity (or justice, fairness ), meaning that every individual has the same opportunities and is subject to the same limitation, which is law. My definition for equity is: the situation when the ratio between the value that any individual in the society creates and the domain that he/she controls equals to the ratio between the value that any other individual in the society creates and the domain that any other individual controls. What I mean by “the domain that he/she controls”and "the domain that any other individual controls" here is the sum of “power” and “wealth”. This definition demonstrates that the individual’s gain will have to be in direct proportion to his/her contribution. The more one works, the more one gains. The less one works, the less one gains. No work, no gain. Question is, though, that “value” as a thing is difficult to measure. What is the value of Einstein’s theory? Newton’s? The fourth factor will have to be social freedom. What is social freedom? We have to understand what freedom is in the first place. Freedom means no limitation or restraints. There are two kinds of limitation. The first is natural limitation that comes from nature. For example, human cannot survive in water as fish does, likewise, fish cannot survive on land as human does. The second kind of limitation is man-made, such as limitation in expression or thoughts, mobility, choice of occupation and the like. They are called social limitation. Natural freedom is without the limitation of nature, and social freedom is without the limitation of society. Possessing a car or motorbike will enable one to travel to places where one could not go before, and that is natural freedom. Nevertheless, if you have an accident or commit impaired driving and the judge revokes your driver’s license, that is social limitation. The fifth factor is therefore natural freedom in terms of time and space and the like. The sixth factor is equality, meaning an equal distribution of wealth.

Just like the case of designing automobiles, these six social requirements also contradict one another. As shown in figure 1 below, dotted lines indicate contradictory relations and solid black lines demonstrate complementary relations. Where there is no line, there is no direct relation. Figure 1 has seven dotted lines and two solid black lines, indicating nine different kinds of relations:

Figure 1: Six requirements and their inter-relations 

Security and Efficiency 

Let us first discuss the relation between security and efficiency. There will be no efficiency if everyone enjoys job security one hundred per cent. On the contrary, if job security can be lost due to poor performance, everyone will then work hard and be effective. As mentioned before, a motorbike is efficient but not safe enough, whereas an armored vehicle is safe but not efficient. In the beginning when the “Creator” “designed” animals, He also had to face the same dilemma: turtle is safe with shell, but is slow. Rabbit runs fast but is not safe because it has no means to protect itself against harm. Be it in the natural world or the human society, security and efficiency always contradict each other. If people want to have more personal or property security, then they would have to spend more on military and weapons, which in turn will affect everyone’s living standard and reduce efficiency. In the industrialized countries, exhaust fume from the cars is the primary source of air pollution. Nevertheless, if people do not drive, the society will be paralyzed. 

Social Freedom and Equality

Everyone is born different, except for twins. Some people are strong and some are weak. Some are tall when some are short. Some are extrovert while some are introvert. Some are clever but some are stupid. If every individual can freely develop without social limitations, then as a result we will inevitably see some people flourish when some people wane. Some of the people are poor but some are rich. For the sake of equality, society must therefore limit those that are clever and subsidize those that are stupid. The view of “social Darwinism” emphasizes social freedom but takes equality lightly, and favors the law of the jungle and free competition. On the contrary, the view of “Marxism” stresses equality but ignores the perspectives of social freedom. In my opinion, the essence of Marxism can be summarized in one word: Equality. Because of the even up policy as adopted in Mainland China, intellectuals always think that they are unfairly treated, hence always the issue regarding treatment of intellectuals. In the West, however, it has never been an issue because intelligent people think that they have already obtained their fair share, power and wealth. In as much the same way as no car that can both be cheap and luxurious, no society in this world can both have social freedom and wealth equality. Generally speaking, a social system that stresses equality is called socialism and a social system that emphasizes social freedom is called capitalism. History is just like a pendulum. The Russian revolution in 1917 and the Chinese revolution in 1949 are examples of the pendulum of history swinging from “social freedom” (inequality) to “equality” (no freedom). Nevertheless, if the pendulum swings to the extreme point of absolute equality (absolute no freedom), then it would be difficult to swing back. This is because the general public does not have enough freedom to organize revolution. It is only when the authorities in power decide to swing back and want a revolution, then will the revolution take place. This is exactly the social condition in which the recent revolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe took place. Why then, is Marxism always successful in poor countries? The reason lies in the average low living standard of the people in those countries. For those people whose poverty falls even below the poor countries’ average living standard, they simply cannot survive and revolution is the only way out. How to stop this kind of social swing and why had there not been any disruptive social revolution in the western industrialized countries in the last couple of hundred years? There is only one simple answer: a legalized democratic system. 

Social Freedom and Security 

Too much social freedom will lead to insecurity. When people have the freedom to find jobs, their employers will also have the freedom to fire them. In this way, workers will not have job security. When people have the freedom to drink and drive, it will also lead to more accidents. When everyone has the freedom to carry firearms, then personal security is threatened. 

Efficiency and Natural Freedom

The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler in reality discusses this kind of relation. Nevertheless, it is observed that Toffler does not realize that his concepts of synchronization, centralization, standardization and specialization can also be derived from the contradictory relation between efficiency and natural freedom. The so-called synchronization means that people would sacrifice freedom to some degree in terms of time for the sake of higher efficiency. Centralization is to sacrifice freedom to some degree in space in return for efficiency. One simple example would be the choice between riding in a car and taking the train. On the one hand, riding in a car is not subject to limitation imposed by train schedule. Car passengers need not go to the train station, nor have to take a route along the rail. In terms of space and mobility, riding in a car is better than taking the train. On the other hand, however, riding in a car is more expensive and less efficient than traveling in a train. When people sacrifice some freedom options in terms of commodity and service to only produce and provide certain kinds of commodity and service, that is standardization. For example, if I cannot get a pair of shoes in size 9.25, I have to settle with size 9.5. In the event that I insist on having a pair of size 9.25 shoes, I will need to have them custom made and since I have to spend more on the shoes, they are less efficient. Again, if I want to take a plane in the second and a half class, that would be nearly impossible because I can only have the options of second (business) class or third (economy) class. The so-called specialization means that people can only learn and get hold of a certain discipline of knowledge in the short span of life, again for efficiency. It would be nearly impossible for someone to try to be an outstanding physicist as well as a physician today in a world that is bursting with knowledge and information. Therefore, people have to sacrifice freedom to some degree in terms of career options. Both Karl Marx and Alvin Toffler believe that in future people can afford to practice a profession in the morning, switch to another at noon, and exercise the third in the afternoon. Nevertheless, I believe that despite the assistance of highly-developed computers, ordinary people would not be able to grasp Einstein’s theory of relativity in a matter of three or five years. In the West, since the per capita income (efficiency) of the general public reaches a certain standard, people are more willing to sacrifice efficiency for the sake of greater natural freedom. Five-day workweek and the not so standardized clothing and automobiles are typical examples of this trend. People would still think it worthwhile even when they have to spend more on these things. 

Social Freedom and Efficiency

These two are of complementary relation. When there is freedom, there is competition and consequently efficiency. When there is no freedom, things cannot serve their best use, and people cannot exercise their best abilities. Consequently, there will be no efficiency. The truth is that market economy that is adjusted by the law of supply and demand is more efficient than a centrally planned economy. 

Efficiency and Equity

These two are also of complementary relation. To guarantee a fair competition at the physical marathon race, there must be some established rules of the game. For example, there have to be adjudicators, and athletes cannot hitchhike or ask others to carry them to run. They cannot deliberately cause others to stumble, use steroid, or take a short-cut route. Only with rules as such that everyone will try his/her best to run with great efficiency. It works in the same way for the human race of intellectual marathon. In this race the rules of the game is called the “law”, with government officials and judges as the adjudicators. If the “athletes” have the right to select, supervise and remove “adjudicators”, then the “adjudicators” will not violate the rules. We call this a democratic society. However, if the “athletes” have not such rights, the “adjudicators” themselves will easily violate the rules and we call this a dictatorial society. A democratic society is more efficient than a dictatorial society because it is more equitable. The so-called feudal society means that those that are running at the front of the race will always run at the front, those in the middle will run always in the middle, whereas those at the back will always run at the back. The comparative position of any individual is determined by his/her family background or heritage instead of his/her personal abilities, and that is not equitable. Situations as such may be deemed necessary during a time when science and technology is not highly developed. Ever since the industrial revolution, however, this system has been grossly unfair with rapidly developing technology and new invention that could increase productivity in multifold times,people with talent and ability could not lift up their heads. As a consequence, people advocate democracy, freedom and equity. More than 200 years ago the slogans as advocated during the French Revolution were sovereignty of the people (democracy), liberty of the individual (social freedom), and equality before the law (equity). If we abbreviate the last part of the slogan to “equality”, then it is obviously wrong. In a way, though, the so-called feudal system has not been one hundred per cent feudal. One typical example would be the imperial examination system in Chinese history. 

Social Freedom and Equity

The main purpose of legislation is to ensure a fair competition. Law is man-made limitation. It imposes limitation on people’s social freedom, therefore social freedom and equity are contradictory to each other. 

Equity and Security

The so-called unemployment insurance is for those who are employed to subsidize those who are unemployed. The so-called car or medical insurance is for those safe drivers and healthy people to subsidize the drivers that cause accident and those that are sick. From this perspective insurance as such is not fair. On the one hand, we have to sacrifice equity for security reason. On the other hand, we also have to sacrifice security for the sake of equity. 

Equity and Equality

If we have to go for equality, we have to tax the rich more and tax the poor less. It does not mean, however, that both the rich and the poor are taxed 30%. It should be 50% or 60% for the rich, and 10% or 20% for the poor. The poorest not only are tax exempted, but will be subsidized by the government, meaning that they are supported by the other taxpayers. This is the principle behind the progressive tax and social welfare systems adopted by most countries in the world, and it is not equitable. 

By now the reader should have noticed that there is no perfect social system in this world, in as much the same way as there is no perfect car in the world. 

Social Science and Natural Science 

There are several reasons for natural science to be more successful than social science (if it can be called science). Firstly, natural science stresses quantitative research. Secondly, there is no emotional linkage between the researcher and the object of study. Social science research, however, has many taboos. It is not nice to say this thing, or it will offend people in saying that thing, and the like. People sometimes can only say things that are politically correct but not scientifically correct. In my opinion, human language is vague. For example, the word “desk” does not indicate how many legs the “desk” has or what material it is made of. By the same token, “socialism” and “capitalism” are also vague concepts. If I can provide concrete parameters such as measurement, material and color, then the “desk” I talk about has a definite meaning. There are also concrete parameters in social science research, such as efficiency, extent of security, degree of equity, level of equality, measure of natural freedom and social freedom, people’s average life span, crime rate, average number of phones and cars in the population, and the like. In order to reach objective conclusion, researchers of social studies should make use of these quantified concepts  as much as possible to define concepts such as “socialism” and “capitalism”.   Adjudicators giving marks at the gymnastics competition is adopting a way to quantify the performance of the athletes. I believe that social theorists should also quantify the social conditions of different period and different regions in human history. It will be impossible to achieve absolute accuracy, even natural scientists cannot measure the length of an object to absolute accuracy. There will inevitably be some errors but in the case of social science, errors will be bigger. People have not forsaken the assessment method for gymnastics competition simply because it contains large errors. Up to now, not only are there vague concepts such as “socialism” and “capitalism”, but also new vague concepts made up from these vague concepts, such as “primary stage of socialism” and “socialism with distinctive Chinese characteristics”, and the like. 

The Essence of Marxism 

Karl Marx at first recognized that there are only two classes in capitalist society: capitalist and proletariat. As indicated in Figure 2, many people are proletariat but only a few are capitalist.

                    Figure 2: The capitalist society according to Karl Marx

 Figure 3 below indicates the ideal society according to Karl Marx. There is no gap between the rich and the poor and there is abundant supply of materialistic wealth.

Figure 3: The ideal society according to Karl Marx 

According to Statistics Canada, table 1 indicates distribution of Canadian family income in 1986.

Family income   (CDN$)

No. Of families (%)

Family income     (CDN$)

No. Of families (%)

Less than $5,000

1.4

$35,000 - $39,000

9.0

$5,000 - $9,999

4.2

$40,000 - $44,999

8.1

$10,000 - $12,499

3.5

$45,000 - $49,999

6.8

$12,500 - $14,999

4.6

$50,000 - $54,999

6.0

$15,000 - $17,499

4.8

$55,000 - $59,999

4.7

$17,500 - $19,999

4.1

$60,000 - $64,999

3.7

$20,000 - $24,999

8.6

$65,000 - $69,999

2.8

$25,000 - $29,999

8.9

$70,000 - $74,999

2.2

$30,000 - $34,999

9.2

$75,000 or above

7.3

 

Table 1: Distribution of Canadian family income in 1986 

Figure 4 is worked out according to these numbers.

 Figure 4: Canadian wealth distribution curve in 1986 

According to U.S. Bureau of the Census, table 2 indicates the distribution of US family income in 1985. 

Family income     (US$)

No. Of families (%)

Less than $5,000

4.8

$5,000 - $9,999

8.5

$10,000 - $14,999

10.2

$15,000 - $19,999

10.5

$20,000 - $24,999

10.3

$25,000 - $29,999

9.7

$30,000 - $39,999

16.5

$40,000 - $49,999

11.2

$50,000 or above

18.2

 

Table 2: Distribution of US family income in 1985

 Figure 5 is worked out according to these numbers.

 Figure 5: US wealth distribution curve in 1985 

The reality as indicated in figures 4 and 5 is entirely different from the theory of Marx (figure 2). The reality is that in the so-called capitalist countries, there exists a continuous curve for wealth distribution with a middle class that occupies the majority of the population. Because the essence of Marxism is equal distribution of wealth, therefore in the view of Marx this is not an equal world. Consequently human beings were classified into two classes and he also saw in these world concepts such as surplus value, exploitation, class struggle, violent revolution, the dictatorship of proletariat, socialism and communism.

The Grand Theory 

Since ancient times, human beings have been in search of the Grand Theory that can explain all social phenomena. There are some sociologists today that do not believe in such a Grand Theory, observing that if history can repeat itself there may be a completely different result. However, most sociologists still believe that such Grand Theory exists and reckon that there are common characteristics among human beings and that human thoughts and behavior can be traced with a certain pattern. In my opinion, there really exist some goals and requirements among human beings, namely, security, efficiency, social freedom, equity, equality and natural freedom. These are the universal values shared by all human beings. I believe that my theory regarding the six goals of human society and  their inter-relations is The Grand Theory that people have been searching. During their search, people have behaved like blind people climbing up the mountain. They use a stick to feel the landscape around them, and climb wherever they feel to be high. The stick is the democratic system, a self-regulating and self-adjusting social mechanism. There were people in history, such as Karl Marx, that claimed that they had found this Grand Theory and saw the mountaintop. Those that believe in Marx have abandoned the stick and stubbornly walked downhill, believing that they are still walking up the hill. It is exasperating, laughable and pitiful.

Japan as an Example

Why did Japan develop so fast? According to figure 1, one has to sacrifice some degree of security in return for efficiency. Japan lacks natural resources and the sense of security, with her back to the wall, she develops intellectual resources. According to Guinness Book of World Records (1989), Japan has the highest average intelligence quotient in the world. Since Japan lost in the WWII, she has been forbidden to have military expenses anywhere more than 1% of her gross national product. She therefore has saved tremendous wealth from military spending. Japanese scientists and engineers design and manufacture many quality industrial products with reasonable price for civil use and export them to the world. They do not operate like the scientists and engineers of the other countries, wasting time and life in designing and manufacturing weapons. After the WWII, Japan adopted a democratic system with the rule of law. Her people enjoy sufficient social freedom with the system of law guaranteeing a fair competition as much as possible. The combination of all these factors has created an economic miracle. 

The Future of This World

The next question is, if I were to design this world, what are my goals? By the same token, I will go for the six goals mentioned above. The immediate issue facing the world is the matter of security. There have always been wars in some parts of the world, and danger of a full-scale nuclear war also stands. The primary consideration for governments around the world is their own benefits and security. They do not have any obligation towards people of the other countries and they have abundant weapons and troops. This is the main reason for wars to occur. I believe that there are only two options in face of the future of this world. The first one is the outbreak of WWIII, and if there are still some people left, outbreak of WWIV until everyone is dead. The second option is for everyone to abandon and destroy his/her conventional and nuclear weapons, sit down to write the law for this world, use democratic means to form a government for the world and end all the wars. Eliminating one another is not the way to go and the second option is the only way out. I believe that, however, the main obstacle in actualizing the second option is that different ideology and social systems exist together. Everyone believe that his/her ideology is correct and his/her social system superior. This is only because people have not found the Grand Theory. When people learn of my Grand Theory and catch a glimpse of the mountaintop, they will have a common goal and language, and the common wish to stop all the wars and to establish a government for the whole world. This will be a great leap forward for mankind, and an indication that mankind has reached a mature stage in its development. 

* Wilson, Edward O. Sociobiology: The New synthesis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1975 


Imagine

John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

***

You can end all war tomorrow. Simply. Easily. All it takes——all it has ever taken——is for all of you to agree. Yet if you cannot all agree on something as basically simple as ending the killing of each other, how can you call upon the heavens with shaking fist to put your life in order?

                             ——Conversations with God , by Neale Donald Walsch


Short Essays

Is Human Nature Good or Evil?

There is no objective criterion to distinguish between good and evil. The objective criterion in judging human behavior should be “Selfishness” and “Altruism”. Was the behavior of the Japanese kamikaze pilots in WWII good or evil? For the Japanese military, it was good, but for the American military, it was evil. Obviously, it was altruistic.  So, this question is a stupid, meaningless one as there is no answer.

Why do People get Married?

In the beginning, monogamy as we have it today did not exist. In those days, people engaged in free sex. The children could only identify their mother, not their father. With the gradual increases in productivity, there were surplus products. Then came private property. Man, particularly, possessed more private property. Man hoped that after he died, his offspring would inherit his property. He had to have at least one woman who would have sex with him only; this was how he could guarantee that the children produced by this woman were his offspring. That was the genesis of monogamy. The purpose of a wedding is for the bridegroom to warn other men: Do not touch my woman! To reduce arousal among non-couples, people had to cover up their genitals with clothing. Being naked used to be normal; not anymore. People began to feel ashamed of their naked body. Had there not been any constraints, free sex would have been the natural sexual relations. Monogamy is incompatible with human nature. The vows and oaths by both parties in a wedding are all lies. Everyone who is married or has been married is a liar, myself included. Those who will get married are future liars. People call the society of liars “civilized society”, and the society of those who tell the truth “savage society.”

Is the Moon Seen in the States Rounder Than the Moon Seen in China?

The world becomes smaller and smaller.  People regard the earth as a village and call it the Global Village.   I pretend to regard it as a nation.  The United States of America is a big city and China is the countryside of the same nation.  Americans are city people and Chinese are country peasants.  It is more fashionable to speak the language of the city (English) than speak the language of the country peasants (Chinese).  City people go to the countryside to tour more frequently and the peasants seldom visit the big city.  Countryside peasants like to watch the movies of the city and are interested to know the life style of the people living in the city.  The city people are much less interested in the life of the countryside people.   Taiwanese and the people living in Hong Kong are just like the vegetable growers in the outskirts of the big city, make a living in providing food to the city people and for this reason they are richer than the remote country peasants.  When President Clinton made a speech in Peking University during his visiting there in 1998, during the discussion session at the end of his speech, the first question among those raised by the students was, “Why you Americans do not have more interest in (not much report in the public media of) the lives of our Chinese people”. In reality, in the United States the president has no power in directing, and controlling the public media, but on the contrary, the public media there does have the power to supervise the behavior of the president.  The situation in this aspect in the States is just opposite of that in China.  In the States there is not much news about China in the newspapers on radio or TV; the same is true in the Chinese news media, there is not much news about black Africa.  There should be no surprise about that.  Is the moon seen in the city rounder than the moon seen in the countryside?  

Why Equity?

Because people are selfish. If everyone works for others without bothering about reward, there would not be any talk of equity; there would be no such thing as equity. Those who raise the issue of equity are the ones who consider that they have been taken advantage of; that they have worked too hard for what they are paid or worked without pay. Both working without getting paid and getting paid without working are inequity. However, when people talk about inequity, they usually refer to the former scenario. Those who have been convicted of corruption and those who have won the lottery get paid without working. They have no complaints of inequity. They only laugh all the way to the bank.   

Why Efficiency?

Because people are lazy. People always want the most reward for the least amount of work. Ideally, they do not  work at all to reap infinite rewards. Another definition for Efficiency is reward divided by the work provided.

         Is the Goal of Human Existence the Pursuit of Happiness? 

Before constructing a house, the foundation has to be laid. Before writing an essay, definitions have to be made. There are two ways to define a term. One way is to go by one’s personal feelings. For example,  Dictionary of Modern Chinese defines Happiness as “experiences and life that soothe one’s mind”. Another way is to transcend one’s body and be objective. My definition for Happiness is “the state in which one’s needs have been satisfied” or “the state in which one’s goals have been  achieved.” Aristotle said that the goal of human existence is the pursuit of happiness. Substituting my definition for Happiness into this statement and you get “the goal of human existence is the pursuit of the state in which goals have been achieved.” Rubbish. Just as if nothing has been said.

What is Love?   

According to  Dictionary of Modern Chinese, the definition of love is:  “ Having very deep sentiment toward people or things.” I think, human vocabulary is very limited, loving people and loving things are two different concepts, but I can not find two different “love’s” in the dictionary. I believe that the definition of “ love a person” is: “ Unconditionally (do not expect reward) meet this person’s need.” For instance, parents love a child; you can not just kiss the child on the cheek. You must feed him/her when he/she is hungry, keep him/her warm when it’s cold, change his/her diaper when it’s dirty. In order to understand  “  love ”, one must understand “ people’s needs” first. It’s easy to understand a baby’s need, but it’s not as easy to understand an adult’s need. How about society’s need? In other words, what is the purpose of human society? If you love the entire human race, do you know what you should do next?

Can God Create a Stone that He Cannot Lift?

This question is more than 800 years old. In asking this question, the questioner had already assumed the existence of gravity because of the word “lift” in the question. What is “lift”? My definition for  “lift” is: Moving an object to the opposite direction of gravity. By definition, God created everything. Hence, God created gravity. Since God can create gravity, he can certainly make it disappear. So God can “lift” any stone. Put another way, this question could become: if God were to have an arm wrestling match between his left arm (gravity)and right arm (to “lift” the stone), which one would win? Both arms belong to God. This is not a contest; there is no winning or losing. Therefore this is a stupid question. 

If God is omnipotent, God must be everything, everything must be God. There is nothing outside God, not even empty space, because God created space and time. The fact is, “Outside God” is an oxymoron: if there is God, then there will be no “outside”; if there is an “outside”, then there will be no God. There is no gravity “outside” God. God doesn’t live in a gravitational field. For an omnipotent God, there is no such concept as “lift”. “Lift” only exists in human experience. Gravity, like everything else, exists inside God.  For an omnipotent God, there is no such concept as “stand” either, because there is no ground “outside” God. By the same token,for an omnipotent God, there are no such concepts as “breathe”,“eat”,“drink”,“excrete”, “wear clothes”, “walk”,“sit”, “lie down”. God doesn't have a body. All bodies have skin, skin is the boundary of the body. God doesn't have boundary. Therefore, God doesn't have a face,nor shape. An ant looks at you while you are talking, it could see your lips and tongue  moving. The ant asks you: “How do you lift your lips and tongue?” You reply: “It’s a stupid question.” A man sees that the Moon is moving, he asks God: “How do you lift the Moon?” God says: “It’s a stupid question.”

Perfection 

Perfection leads to uniformity. Should there be a perfect car, there wouldn’t be another make of cars. Should there be a perfect plane, there wouldn’t be another model of planes. Should there be a perfect social system, there wouldn’t be another genre of social systems. Should there be a perfect religion, there wouldn't be another kind of religions. Should there be a perfect animal or a perfect plant, there wouldn’t be another species of animals or plants. God considered perfection to be too monotonous and boring; that’s why he created flawed creatures like us. Hence, we have a flawed world. Perfection is not perfect.

 The Initial Conditions of Human Society 

If I were God, I would set a few initial conditions: (1) Humans and other living things would have needs. They would need to breathe; they would need food, water and adequate warmth. When these needs could not be satisfied, they would die. Happiness is the state in which humans are satisfied; suffering is the state in which they are not. Were humans able to survive without needs, there would neither be suffering nor happiness. (2) Human lifespan would be finite. I would not let humans be immortals. I like changes, and I would not want the Earth to be inhabited by always the same people. (3) I would create bisexual reproduction. Genes from both sexes would form new combinations through sexual intercourse. This would entail in one generation’s being different from the next. I like diversity, and I dislike uniformity. (4) I would create carnivores such as lions and tigers. They would be natural enemies of primitive humans. This would necessitate human ancestors and herbivores as well as certain small carnivores to live in groups for their own protection. I would create fear, fear leads to love. Were it not for these large carnivores, there would not be human society on Earth. (5) I would provide humans with limited natural resources. (Given the existing level of human intelligence, the Earth’s resources are finite.) 

With these initial conditions, the world as we know it today was created. In the beginning, there were all kinds of humans: some with a will to survive, but not others; some with sexual desires, but not others; some were curious, but not others; some were selfish, others altruistic. With the passage of time, those without the will to survive, sexual desires, and curiosity and those who were extremely selfish or altruistic to the utmost had been eliminated. Their genes could not pass on to the next generation. Those who remained were the ones with the will to survive, sexual desires and curiosity(desire to know)and who were both selfish and altruistic. The fact is, humans do not have much free will. All human desires are results of natural selection. Desires determine values; values determine morality and law. All the intricacies of social phenomena are rooted in these five initial conditions. 

 

   Imagine...

 

If people were to discover a new source of energy one day that would be inexhaustible and which would not pollute, it would mean infinite efficiency. Once people had infinite efficiency, human society would no longer be an intellectual marathon. People would not have to work. People would no longer have to worry about job security and property security. Monogamy would be gone. People would no longer be selfish. Everyone would be rewarded without having to earn it. It would no longer be a question of the more effort you make, the greater the reward or the less you sweat, the less you make. The idea of no pain, no gain would be passé. The concept of equity would vanish in thin air, and the idea of equality would no longer be necessary. People would not need money,there would be no any tax, economics would be thrown out the window. The contradictory relations between efficiency and security as well as between efficiency and natural freedom would no longer exist. People would have unlimited natural freedom. The contradictory relations between equality and social freedom would no longer be around. There would not be any clashes of isms. We would not have a party on the left and a party on the right. The laws that have been enacted to ensure equity would no longer make any sense, although the laws enacted for the purpose of guaranteeing personal security would still be necessary. Politics would be simplified. Except for the contradictory relations between personal security and social freedom, eight of the nine relations in Figure 1 would no longer be there. The great majority of the problems in human society stem from low efficiency. Just about every social malaise is a poor man’s malaise. Without infinite efficiency, even if mankind could establish a world government and make world peace a reality, none of the nine relations in Figure 1 would be missing.   


Me in a Nutshell

I am an amateur in Sociology without any academic degree. I was born in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China in April 1955. In 1970, I “graduated” from junior high school. In 1971, I went to work in the Tenth Regiment of the Shandong Production and Construction Corps in Laiyang County. In February 1978, I was admitted into  Shandong University, majoring in physics. In 1981, I left for Canada before I graduated. I have been working in a hotel in Vancouver for more than fifteen years. I do not know how an orthodox sociologist conducts social research. This is my idea: if you want to find the truth, the right answers, you have to ask the right questions first. Just like the question raised by Newton: why does the apple fall on the ground? The next question, rather, the next right question is: how to find the right questions in humanities and social sciences? As they say, “those who are in the game miss the right perspective; only those who are on the outside looking in get the clear picture.” Natural scientists are spectators, while social “scientists” are players. To find the right questions, you have to leap out of human society. Suppose I am not a member of the human race; let us say I am an alien observing human society from a flying saucer. The first thing I would notice is that human beings are social animals. My first question would be: why do human beings have to be social? Then I would notice that human beings are very busy; they seem to be always doing something besides eating and sleeping. My second question would be: why do people do these things? In other words, what is the purpose of human existence as individuals and as a society? To enjoy a grander sight, climb to a greater height. Then I would imagine that I am the “Creator”. My mission is to design human society. Hence I have come up with the six objectives of human society. Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” He also said: “Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age. ” 

I wrote SOCIAL PHENOMENA in 1989. Since I am an amateur theorist, I do not have the qualifications to have it published in a professional journal. Not until I came on the Internet in 1998 could I see my wish come true. On the Internet, people do not ask my qualifications.  


As far as I know, the above article has been linked up in the following websites for which I would like to express my gratitude here.

WWW.FOM.RU PSYCHOLOGIA PlanetOut Metamorphose Sify Bomis Kineret.com  ListOfLists AllCommunity galahlinks.com Trneeb.com e-bannerx MavicaNET eiNET Galaxy

雅虎 新浪网 蕃薯藤 中华民族精神网 中国人民大学

E-mail me at tengwang777@hotmail.com